“The US and China are less likely to go to war” – Prof. David Laitin


Professor David D. Laitin is the James T. Watkins IV and Elise V. Watkins Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. Some of his key areas of expertise include comparative politics, civil wars, and international terrorism.

In a brief interview with NEPAL FIRST, Prof. Laitin talks about the global political scenario.

 What are your thoughts on the impact of Covid-19 on world politics?

In the past quarter century, while inequality has increased within many countries, the gap between the rich and poor countries, in part due to globalization, has been substantially ameliorated.  The refugee crisis of 2015-16, along with the Covid-19 pandemic, has brought with them a powerful nationalist agenda in the wealthy democratic states that will likely close markets and immigration from the low and middle income countries. This will exacerbate world poverty, with greater threats to the emergent democratization that were part and parcel of globalization.

How do you view China’s rise? Will it be peaceful and sustainable considering the deep conflicts emerging between the United States and China? How will the relationship between these two countries evolve in the days ahead?

The economic benefits of peaceful competition are immensely higher than the expected returns on either side for war, given the deadweight losses in death and destruction. However, the political returns in the name of nationalism for the incumbent presidents for escalating conflict in the South China Sea or in Taiwan have a small (but gruesome) probability of becoming a major war.

The relationship between the US and EU has deteriorated during President Donald Trump’s presidency. What could be the result of US-EU fallout?

In its relations with Europe, the Trump administration has weakened the US/EU partnership, and even more importantly our common NATO commitments. On some of the tactical implications, this is not all bad, as it will incentivize EU members to coordinate on their own defense without having to free ride on the US nuclear tripwire. But strategically it is a disaster. If the principal foreign policy challenges are coming from China and Russia, the US needs to strengthen its coalition, of which Europe and the signatories of the now defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership are the key allies. Instead, the US is isolating itself from its most valued strategic partners.


About the author

Nepal Forum of International Relations Studies (NEPAL FIRST) is a Kathmandu-based independent, not-for-profit and non partisan organization in the field of International Relations that focuses on issues related to Nepal’s foreign policy and diplomacy.

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